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STARTUPS & INNOVATIONS

BOARD MOVES

California State University, Fullerton’s Center for Entrepreneurship recently appointed Bill Purpura to its advisory board.

Purpura is a longtime supporter of CSUF Entrepreneurship, officials said, having served as a judge, mentor and donor to the organization.

He is the founder and managing partner of holdings company Dargon Development in Anaheim.

Purpura retired from Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) in 2014, after working as a senior systems and project engineer for nearly 16 years.

A CSUF alum, Purpura earned his bachelor’s in engineering from the university in 1976 and his MBA in 1983. He previously served on the CSUF Alumni Board for three terms, from 2013 to 2019.

The CSUF Center for Entrepreneurship holds pitch competitions and offers a startup incubator and consulting team for students with business ventures.

LAUNCH

Phuc (James) Chau Nguyen, a senior at La Quinta High School in Westminster, is developing a cancer-detecting toothbrush.

The device uses a nano chip to separate cancer cells from saliva.

“I could have put this chip inside a big old white container and made it look like some medical device,” Nguyen told the OC Register. Instead, he opted to place the chip in a toothbrush to make his product more consumer-friendly.

His inspiration for the product came after his grandmother, whom he spent much of his childhood with while in Vietnam, died of cancer months after Nguyen and his family immigrated to the U.S.

When she died in 2020, Nguyen began reading cancer studies and papers to better understand the disease that took his grandmother’s life. His research eventually led him to develop his toothbrush.

Nguyen’s invention has earned him multiple recognitions. He was a finalist for the Rise Challenge, a $1 billion global initiative that provides support to youth who are developing solutions to “humanity’s most pressing problems.” He also won a full-ride scholarship to his first-choice university as well as seed investment for a company that can commercialize his toothbrush.

“We are impressed and inspired by the dedication and academic discipline James has demonstrated as he works toward his important goal of early cancer detection innovations,” Garden Grove Board of Education Bob Harden said of Nguyen’s achievements. “James is a wonderful representation of La Quinta High School and as a scholar who is well on his way to achieving lifelong success.”

FDA APPROVALS

Innova Vascular Inc., an Irvine medical device company founded in 2018, is one step closer to receiving FDA approval after it recently submitted a premarket notification—a demonstration that the device to be examined is as safe and effective as already approved devices—for its thrombectomy devices.

Thrombectomy is a growing procedure that removes blood clots from arteries and veins. Irvine’s Inari Medical Inc. (Nasdaq: NARI) is among the industry leaders in the emerging industry.

Innova’s thrombectomy device submission to the FDA “marks an important milestone in our commitment to develop innovative technologies targeting large, underserved markets,” CEO Sanjay Shrivastava said in a statement.

The company is currently partnering with medical equipment manufacturer Cardiovascular Systems Inc. (CSI) (Nasdaq: CSII), which hopes to commercialize Innova’s products in about half a year. The partnership gives CSI exclusive rights to Innova’s thrombectomy devices, in exchange for financing.

Shrivastava is also a co-founder and board member of medical device startup BlackSwan Vascular Inc. He previously worked as the senior director of business development at Johnson & Johnson (NYSE: JNJ) and as the director of global marketing in the Cardiac and Vascular Group at Medtronic PLC, one of the world’s largest medical device makers.

FUNDING

Nostromo Energy Inc., a cold energy storage developer with U.S. operations in Irvine, said the U.S. Department of Energy’s Loan Programs Office invited the company to submit an application for a $189 million loan that would fund the installation of Nostrum’s IceBrick energy storage system in up to 120 construction and inspection buildings in California.

If approved, the loan would create hundreds of U.S. jobs and significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions from energy use by the selected buildings, officials said.

“If the application successfully proceeds to a loan guarantee, the DOE’s and LPO’s support will help us accelerate commercial deployment of our novel energy storage technology for behind-the-meter installation, which is critical for both balancing and decarbonizing the power grid,” CEO Yoram Ashery said in a statement.

Half the energy for construction and inspection buildings is used for cold storage, according to company officials. Nostromo’s ice-based energy storage system will lower buildings’ energy costs and carbon emissions, officials said.

The company is also working with investment bank Independence Point Securities, which will help raise equity capital for the project.

Nostromo, was founded in 2017 in Israel. It has raised over $42 million to date. CEO Ashery previously led Nobio, a nanotechnology company and biotechnology company Aposense.

 

Sunstone Community Fund, started last year by Irvine VC firm Sunstone Management founding partner John Shen, said it’s pledging $1 million in support of early-stage entrepreneurship.

The fund will provide financial support to universities and organizations that offer training to underrepresented founders and advance economic development, officials say.

The fund has provided over $270,000 in grants and scholarships to date.

“We are thrilled to announce our Million Dollar Pledge through the Sunstone Community Fund, which reinforces our mission to support the next generation of founders and innovators,” said Sunstone Management CEO and Manager Partner John Keisler said in a statement. “Donors can look forward to seeing their contributions elevate startups and grow local entrepreneurial ecosystems.”

Grants provided by the Sunstone Community Fund include the CSU Community Building Grant and the TiE SoCal Entrepreneurship Grant, according to officials.

PARTNERSHIPS

Wave Neuroscience LLC, a Newport Beach wellness company, is teaming up with Irvine upscale fitness center Equinox Orange County to provide gym-goers with electromagnetic treatments that aim to improve brain health.

The partnership “rapidly expands access to critical tech that’s poised to help many with things like sleep, focus, cognition, mood, self-control, stress management, and more,” company officials said.

Wave Neuroscience records and analyzes an individual’s brainwaves to create a personalized brainwave stimulation procedure. Ambassadors for the company include former NFL player Nick Hardwick, pro-surfer Becca Speak and pro-surfer Shane Dorian.

Wave Neuroscience, founded in 2019, is led by Fred Walke. Walke previously served as CEO for multiple businesses, including wellness media company Zilliance, medtech company Presage Health, weight-loss company LeanMD and dental company MicroDental Laboratories.

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